Curlers rock and roll with "Hurry Hard" condoms

By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - While curling's rock and roll lifestyle has more to do with on-ice strategy than partying, U.S. Olympians will arrive at the Vancouver Winter Games packing their own "Hurry Hard" condoms.

When it comes to product endorsements, curling's older demographics might seem better suited to pitching Viagra than condoms, but USA Curling has entered into a fundraising and AIDS awareness campaign with one of its sponsors hoping the association will benefit both.

The Hurry Hard branding comes from the yelling that can be heard at any curling rink as skips who slide the rocks down the ice urge sweepers to clean the ice in front it with the shouts of "Hurry, hurrrrry, hard."

The suggestion of condoms for fundraising was initially dismissed "as a nice joke," but after talking with sponsors it developed into an idea to raise money and awareness about AIDS, Patzke said.

The condoms are packaged with a logo of a smiling curling stone and can be purchased online (www.hurryhardcondoms.com) for $4.99. Proceeds will be split between USA Curling and the Monterey County AIDS Prevention program.

LOW-PROFILE OLYMPIC SPORT

USA Curling is uncertain what kind of impact the cross-promotion will have on their sport or AIDS awareness.

Even after becoming part of the Olympic program in 1998 in Nagano, curling continues to be a butt of jokes, though it is a popular winter pastime across Canada.

The Simpsons television program is scheduled to air an episode where Marge and Homer go to Vancouver to join the curling competition.

Men with brooms does not conjure up the edgy image that snowboarders enjoy, but John Shuster, skip of the U.S. men's team, says curlers have developed thick skin.

"There are sexual innuendo about things that are said by curlers, like when we're yelling "hurry hard," said Shuster, who added he has no plans to pack some of the "Hurry Hard" condoms in his luggage.

NO SHORTAGE OF OLYMPIC PROTECTION

The 2010 Olympic city on Canada's Pacific Coast is set to be flooded by condoms during the Games, which begin on February 12 and last for more than two weeks.

SafeGames 2010, a consortium of more than 10 Vancouver community based organizations, is working together to ensure that those attending the Games celebrate safely and will distribute 250,000 condoms and other products.

Athletes will also be covered.

Vancouver Coastal Health will make 40,000 condoms available to Olympic and Paralympic athletes staying in Athlete villages in Vancouver and the nearby resort village of Whistler, where many alpine events will be held.

Another 60,000 will be distributed at Games hospitality suites, bars and other facilities.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)